Of the patterns of percussion

The genre of Sarvalagu in the art of percussion enjoys a special stature due to its gentle, pleasing, uncomplicated patterns that raise the Melaprapthi of a performance to appreciable standards. The swaying, foot-tapping, easy-to-comprehend tala intricacies keep the listener enthralled. However, this does not in anyway detract the brilliant, imaginative, innovative calculations and techniques associated with rhythmic expertise.

Vellore G. Ramabhadran, who has enjoyed a special niche in his fiefdom of mridangam, deserves the sobriquet `Dharmapatni' given to him by none other than Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer for his all-supportive role on the kutcheri dais with the fidelity of a wife following the footsteps of her spouse. Semmangudi's argument in favour of the sarvalagu mode was that it was unobtrusive and helped the musician to put across his musical ideas with composure. This volume (available at Spencer's Landmark) produced by D. V. Subramaniam and Raji Subramaniam in memory of their daughter Maragadalakshmi, says the compere Janaki Sabesh, is not for learning, but for appreciating the charm of the Sarvalagu form.

The narration in English, Tamizh, French and German explains the contents of the album such as the importance of knowledge in vocal music, titles and awards received by Ramabhadran, the components of a mridangam, tani avartanam, kalapramanam, the chromatic scale, the basic difference in laya and tala. And the programme details the two instrumental performances of Padma Shankar, sishya of Lalgudi Jayaraman on the violin, and T. A. Jayanth on the flute. In harmony

Ramabhadran is a master in aligning the Adhara sruti of the main artiste to his mridangam in impeccable fashion without the slightest discordance, which by itself is an art. The modal tonic may vary from artiste to artiste but Ramabhadran's harmony with any sruti is praiseworthy. The incomparable mridangam maestro Palghat Mani Iyer has voiced his appreciation on this aspect of Ramabhadran's skills. The playing for the various tempos Chowka, Vilambha, Madhya and Dhurita are demonstrated, with the nadham of the mridangam sounding like a soothing lullaby.

Brief essays for the Adi, Roopaka, Khanda Chapu and Misra Chapu are played with precision. The tani avartanam in Adi tala and the role of an accompanist with as much concentration and sincerity as he would bestow senior stalwarts with, speaks much for Ramabhadran's commitment to the art.

Padma Shankar renders a Lalgudi varnam in Valaji, Dikshitar's `Govardhana Gireesam' in Hindolam and the Mohanakalyani tillana of Lalgudi. Young Jayanth acquits himself creditably in his interpretations of four Tyagaraja kritis and the Dhanasri tillana of Swati Tirunal.


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